First the answer to the question every Blue Jackets fan has been asking today. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports via Twitter that “nobody has been fired.”
That’s the good news for coach Scott Arniel and general manager Scott Howson. However, given their team’s 0-7-1 start to the season, things could be different soon.
Last night in Ottawa, the Jackets sunk to their lowest point yet, surrendering two goals in the last minute to lose, 4-3, to the Senators.
“It’s tough,” said Columbus captain Rick Nash. “It seems like we’re not getting any bounces. It seems like we’re finding ways to lose games instead of finding ways to win games. That’s the difference between good teams and bad teams right now.”
With all due respect to Nash, the difference between the Blue Jackets and good teams is a lot more than a bad bounce or two. Columbus is 25th in goals scored and 29th in goals against. The power play is terrible (26th) and the penalty killing is even worse (30th).
On the bright side, the Jackets are undefeated with James Wisniewski in the line-up, and he’ll be on the ice Tuesday at home versus the Red Wings, his lengthy suspension to start the season now over.
Sitting out the first eight games wasn’t the way Wisniewski wanted to begin his career in Columbus. The 27-year-old puck-moving defenseman signed a six-year, $33-million deal with the club this summer. And while he isn’t quite up there with the handful of elite blue-liners in the NHL, he didn’t get the big contract for nothing. Wisniewski had 51 points in 75 games last season, tied for fifth among all defensemen.
Forward Jeff Carter was the other big name Columbus added to the payroll during the offseason, coming over in a trade with Philadelphia. Carter is currently on injured reserve with a fracture foot, though he’s not expected to miss a significant amount of time with the injury. The 26-year-old has just three assists in five games, not exactly the production the Jackets were hoping for when they gave up a first- and a third-round pick, plus talented young forward Jakub Voráček.
It should also be noted that forward Kristian Huselius (torn pectoral) is out for at least another month. Huselius is a six-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL.
So, no, the Blue Jackets haven’t been able to put their best feet forward over their first eight games. And yes, there’s still time to turn things around.
But they’d better get going soon.
After hosting Detroit on Tuesday, Columbus heads out on a tough two-game road trip to Buffalo and Chicago.